Good nutrition is important for everyone, and especially so if you are undergoing treatment for cancer. Cancer and its treatment can affect your nutritional needs or eating habits in various ways, for instance by:
As severe weight loss and malnutrition can interfere with the functioning of important body organs, you should take extra care to ensure that you are eating well, more so if you are recovering from surgery or having cancer treatment. Eating well can help you to maintain your energy levels, keep up your weight and body nutritional status, better tolerate side effects and aid in your recovery.
Your Nutritional Needs
The nutritional needs of individuals undergoing cancer treatment vary from person to person. For instance, you may be advised to eat more ‘high calorie’ foods if you suffer from a poor appetite, or you may be encouraged to take less fibre when you are having diarrhoea or blockage in your intestines. Otherwise, nutrition recommendations typically focus on the balanced intake of nutrients and fluids, which include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. In general, you must take enough nutrients for your body to function at its best before, during and after treatment.
What you can do
Eating-related side effects may or may not occur in the course of your cancer treatment journey. Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to ensure that you keep up with your nutritional status:
Prepare yourself for treatment
After treatment ends
When to call your cancer care team
Please inform your doctor or nurse if your eating-related problems or weight loss worsens or do not improve after treatment. Your doctor may be able to prescribe you with medications to deal with side effects causing these problems, and/or refer you to a dietitian who can work out an individualised diet plan that best suits your nutritional needs.
If you have any questions regarding the above information, please call Cancer Helpline at +65 6225 5655 or approach your doctor or nurse for further details.
For more information on nutrition, you may refer to the following:
here to download the PDF version of this article.
The above contents are made available as part of TEMASEK FOUNDATION-ACCESS (Accessible Cancer Care to Enable Support for Survivors) PROGRAMME, a holistic care programme to support cancer patients during their care and recovery journey.
The contents have been reviewed by Ms. Lee Miaw Sim (Dietitian, Department of Dietetics, Singapore General Hospital), and approved by the Cancer Education Information Service, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), for people with cancer and their families and caregivers. However, this information serves only as a guide and should not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment or advice. For specific medical conditions, please seek expert medical advice from your healthcare team.
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